Why did Vladimir Putin bring about the ‘dissolution’ of USSR before declaring war on Ukraine?

Author: Yuvi February 27, 2022

Why did Vladimir Putin bring about the 'dissolution' of the USSR before declaring war on Ukraine?


In an address to the nation on February 21, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced his decision to recognize Ukraine’s two separate republics – Donetsk and Luhansk – as independent states, marking Russia’s last military position in the region. became a prelude to the campaign. In the speech, Mr Putin blamed Soviet leaders, particularly Lenin, the leader of the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, for the disintegration of “historic Russia”. Lenin’s idea of ​​building a country “on the principles of autonomy” (“the right to self-determination, up to secession”), he said, eventually led to the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). “Lenin’s principles of state development were not merely a mistake; they were worse than a mistake, as the saying goes. This became abundantly clear after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991,” Mr. Putin said. From the speech it appears that Mr. Putin’s main complaint is the collapse of the Soviet Union – not as a communist superpower but as a geopolitical entity.

What was the context of the collapse of the USSR?

The expose of Soviet power began in the late 1980s with protests in the Eastern Bloc as well as Soviet republics and the Soviet Union’s humiliating exit from Afghanistan. The Soviet Union sent troops to Afghanistan to support the communist regime in 1979, and after 10 years of fighting the Mujahideen, which were backed by the US, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the Soviet Union retreated in February 1989. Within months, the Soviet-backed communist regime in Eastern Europe began to collapse, practically ending the Cold War. It began in Poland, which hosted the headquarters of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact Security Coalition. The protests spread to Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and Romania. In June 1989, the anti-communist solidarity movement led by Lech Wasa won a landslide victory in partially free elections in Poland, leading to the peaceful collapse of the communist regime. This triggered a chain reaction in the Eastern Bloc. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall that separated capitalist West Berlin and communist East fell, leading to German reunification a year later.

Domestically, the Soviet Union was passing through a difficult economic period. Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, said that an “era of stability” gripped the country in the mid-1960s. By the time Gorbachev became Soviet leader in 1985, the Soviet Union was already in serious trouble. Foreign trade was falling. Lower oil prices led to a drop in state revenues and an explosion in debt. Gorbachev introduced economic reforms, such as decentralization (perestroika) and opening up the economy to foreign trade. The reforms strengthened the nationalists in the Soviet republics (administrative units), but failed to revive the economy.

How did the Soviet disintegration happen?

The collapse of communist states in the Eastern Bloc and economic stagnation within the country had a debilitating effect on Moscow’s hold on the federation. In 1988, Estonia, a small republic on the Baltic coast, became the first Soviet administrative unit to declare state sovereignty within the federation. On March 11, 1990, Lithuania, another Baltic republic, became the first country to declare independence from the USSR. The old system was crumbling under its own weight. The Eastern Bloc had collapsed. After German reunification, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) expanded to East Germany. The crisis was brewing in the Soviet republics, and Gorbachev was planning to decentralize most of the central government’s powers to 15 republics through the New Union Treaty, which would also renegotiate the original treaty that established the USSR in 1922. There was a quote. In August 1991, facing a crisis in the Union, a group of communist fundamentalists, including top military and civilian leaders, tried to take power by overthrowing Gorbachev in a coup. But the coup failed, and a more vulnerable Gorbachev remained in power. On December 8, 1991, the leaders of the three Soviet republics—Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk and Belarusian Prime Minister Vyacheslav Kebich—signed the Belvezha Agreement, declaring that the USSR no longer existed. He also announced the establishment of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) which would replace the USSR. Within weeks, Gorbachev announced his resignation.

What are Russia’s equations with the former Soviet states?

Nine of the former Soviet republics are members of the CIS – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan. and Turkmenistan is an associate member. Russia has a huge influence in these countries. Russia has also formed a security organization, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), with the former Soviet republics. Besides the Russian Federation, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are members of the CSTO. Of the 15 republics that became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union, three Baltic countries – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, all sharing borders with Russia – became NATO members in 2004. Ukraine and Georgia were offered NATO membership in 2008. But in the same year, Russia sent troops to Georgia in the name of defending two separate republics – South Ossetia and Abkhazia, against attacks by Georgian troops. In 2014, Russia annexed the Republic of Crimea, a Black Sea peninsula, from Ukraine. This month, Russia recognized two more separate republics from Ukraine – Luhansk and Donetsk in the Donbass region – and sent troops there on Thursday. Russia also maintains a military presence in Transnistria, a separate republic from Moldova, and will send troops to the borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020 to end a conflict between the two countries over Nagorno Karabakh (Kalakh Republic). Have given.

Why did Ukraine fall out with Russia?

After becoming independent in 1991, Ukraine adopted a largely neutral foreign policy. It was one of the founding members of the CIS, but did not join the security organization CSTO. Ukraine also stayed away from NATO. But in 2008 the offer of NATO membership began to change the equation between Moscow and Kiev. After the pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich regime was brought down at the 2014 Euromaidan protests and a pro-West government was established in Kiev, relations turned hostile. Russia moved rapidly to annex Crimea, which also hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, and began supporting separatist rebels in the Donbass. Ukraine later withdrew from the CIS and wrote its desire to include NATO in its constitution. These events tore the countries apart, setting the stage for enduring hostilities, which led to the current conflict.

27 February, 2022, 12:23 pm

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